Music & Culture
Music & Culture

The City Who Had Two Navels: the Philippine Pavilion at the 16th Venice Biennale is Heading to Manila

The City Who Had Two Navels: the Philippine Pavilion at the 16th Venice Biennale is Heading to Manila


Mynila Team July 1, 2019 Music & Culture

The exhibition, inspired by landmark Filipino National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin’s novel The Woman Who Had Two Navels, confronts the tension between the vicissitudes of the past and the challenges of constructing contemporary subjectivity.

Titled “The City Who Had Two Navels” as a critical response to Joaquin’s important literary work and in celebration of his birth centennial, the Philippine contribution to the 2018 Biennale highlights two “navels” that are in constant dialogue: first, how colonialism impacts the formation of the built environment; second, how the process of neoliberalization alters the urban landscape.

To reconsider the paired forces of colonialism and neoliberalism as shapers of Philippine cities, a think-tank consortium was assembled specifically for the Philippine Pavilion. Filipino artist Yason Banal, four Philippine architecture schools, and a non-governmental organization were invited to form part of this consortium and tasked to respond to the themes of the exhibit.

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The pavilion explores the relationship between the past and the future by focusing on the built environment as expression of self-determination and as setting for global and transnational revolution. Following the call for examining an idea of “Freespace” by the Biennale curators, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, the Philippine Pavilion seeks to interrogate architecture and urbanism’s ability to empower and transform people’s lives. “Freespace” or “Pookginhawa” in the Philippine context, underscores the strategies by which Filipinos use the built environment as modes of resistance to and appropriation of an ever-changing world.

The homecoming re-stage of the pavilion will open on July 2nd at 6pm: there will be a talk “Curating and Designing the Philippine Pavilion” with curator Dr. Edson Cabalfin and exhibition contributors at 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

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